Remembrances in Black


Personal Perspectives of the African American Experience at the University of Arkansas, 1940s–2000s
Edited by Charles F. Robinson II and Lonnie R. Williams
978-1-55728-675-8 (paper)
December 2010


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With the admittance in 1948 of Silas Hunt to the University of Arkansas Law School, the university became the first southern public institution of higher education to officially desegregate without being required to do so by court order. The process was difficult, but an important first step had been taken. Other students would follow in Silas Hunt’s footsteps, and they along with the university would have to grapple with the situation. Remembrances in Black is an oral history that gathers the personal stories of African Americans who worked as faculty and staff and of students who studied at the state’s flagship institution.

These stories illustrate the anguish, struggle, and triumph of individuals who had their lives indelibly marked by their experiences at the school. Organized chronologically over sixty years, this book illustrates how people of color navigated both the evolving campus environment and that of the city of Fayetteville in their attempt to fulfill personal aspirations. Their stories demonstrate that the process of desegregation proved painfully slow to those who chose to challenge the forces of exclusion. Also, the remembrances question the extent to which desegregation has been fully realized.

Charles F. Robinson II is vice provost for diversity at the University of Arkansas and the author of Dangerous Liaisons: Sex and Love in the Segregated South and Forsaking All Others.

Lonnie R. Williams is associate vice chancellor for student affairs at Arkansas State University, Jonesboro. Previously he served for thirteen years as the assistant vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Arkansas.

“A valuable contribution to the history of American higher education, Arkansas history, and general African American and civil rights history.”
—Bobby L. Lovet, The Journal of Southern History, Nov. 2012

“An extraordinary volume…. While abstract analysis of the process of desegregation is valuable and necessary, this volume serves as a powerful reminder that individual lives were always at stake. These stories are frankly inspiring in their demonstration of human resilience in the face of severe obstacles and in the determination of so many to wrest as much good as possible from their experiences and to claim the University of Arkansas as their own.”
—Melissa Kean, Rice University, in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Autumn 2012

“Very Moving … Remembrances in Black is far from the usual institutional history, which retells a story of enlightened administrators and diligent students moving ever onward and upward. Instead, this book presents a searing, honest account of university life by those so often at both the margins and the center of attention…”
—Guy Lancaster in the Oral History Review, Winter-Spring 2012

“[H]istorians of education are surely to be interested in an institutional history that tracks the response of a southern post-secondary institution to changing racial and social mores through oral interviews with alumni…”
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